Comparison Test: Peppermint OS One 08042010 vs. Ice 10012010

One: Main Screen
(NOTE: I know a lot of commenters have asked for clickable thumbnails. Unfortunately, this appears to be an issue with Blogger, because when I initially upload pictures, they are clickable thumbnails, but a few minutes later, they magically lose their functionality. I'm not sure why that is, and the only workaround is to make the images the original size, which is huge (800 by 600 pixels each) and would drown out all the text, which isn't good. Unless you're OK with seeing smaller images (and they will have to be made this small), this is how it is for now. Sorry. I'm not too happy about this either, so I hope this situation will change soon.)
By popular demand, I am testing Peppermint OS (both versions). This is not going to be a completely in-depth comparison as in the comparison of KDE distributions, because the two versions of Peppermint OS differ only in the details; the way they work is essentially the same. I tested both in VirtualBox and allocated 256 MB of RAM to each version.
So what is Peppermint OS? It's not actually based on Linux Mint, as the name might suggest (more on that later); it's an LXDE distribution based on Lubuntu, with an emphasis on cloud applications. What does this mean? This means that Peppermint OS replaces many traditional desktop applications with web-based counterparts; it uses Mozilla Prism (One) or Ice (Ice) to essentially make the webpage like any other desktop application, without needing to open a fully-fledged instance of a web browser. This makes it possible to put things like Facebook and Picasa in the LXDE main menu (more on that later). Follow the jump to see how all this works out.


I did not do any stopwatch measurements, but the boot and startup times (especially for only 256 MB of RAM in a virtual machine) are some of the fastest I've seen yet. The boot splash is the new Ubuntu Plymouth splash, with the Ubuntu logo replaced by the Peppermint OS logo.
One: YouTube through Mozilla Prism
The default desktop is red. Quite red. That said, it looks classy, not garish, and the themes and icons certainly look better than the LXDE defaults.
What sets Peppermint OS One apart is its use of Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Prism. Here, Mozilla Firefox, surprisingly, is at version 4.0 beta 2, and (again subjectively) it feels faster than Mozilla Firefox 3.6. I was going to do my usual codec tests in Mozilla Firefox as usual, but then I realized that there's a menu entry for YouTube, so I went to that, making it also a test of Mozilla Prism. YouTube worked quite well. Adobe Flash in other sites on Mozilla Firefox worked, but it slowed the machine down a bit and made it freeze for short periods of time.
One: Mozilla Firefox
Surprisingly, there are no productivity applications (unless you count the text editor LeafPad) included; instead, there are links to Google Docs and GMail, so it seems like Peppermint OS has gone the whole hog with the whole cloud thing. Google Docs has been quite well-documented, so I'm not really going to cover it here.
Other bundled (desktop) applications include Cheese Webcam Booth and Exaile Media Player. PCManFM, as always, is the default file manager. Hulu is included, and this led me to believe that this was the Hulu player for Linux; instead, it's just a Mozilla Prism application linking to the Hulu website.
One: LXDE Menu + PCManFM
The part of Linux Mint that has influenced Peppermint OS is the always-excellent Linux Mint Software Manager, which is the default software manager in Peppermint OS. (For more hardcore package management, Synaptic Package Manager (and of course, Aptitude and apt-get) are included as well). The only issue is that the Software Manager starts up and runs rather slowly; it seems to choke up the system in a manner similar to how Adobe Flash chokes up the system when loaded in Mozilla Firefox.
As far as I know, Peppermint OS uses Ubiquity, the Ubuntu installer, so I'm not covering the installation process; truthfully, I didn't install it anyway.


Subjectively, Peppermint OS Ice tends to start up a bit slower than Peppermint OS One. Strangely, while the bootsplash in One shows "Peppermint OS" in a nicely-designed logo, the bootsplash in Ice shows "Peppermint One" in plain text. This is quite strange. The desktop is designed a bit differently, with an emphasis on blues and grays instead of reds. Why is this? The answer is coming right up.
Ice: Main Screen
Instead of Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Prism, Peppermint OS Ice uses Chromium and Ice, respectively. (Chromium is the unbranded open-source version of Google Chrome.) Despite not having hard numbers, Chromium feels a lot faster to start up and load pages than Mozilla Firefox, and loading a website heavy with Adobe Flash doesn't make the system slow down in the least bit (despite having the same 256 MB of RAM allocated to the system). I had never experienced that huge speed difference until now, so I can now wholeheartedly recommend Chromium over Mozilla Firefox for lower-resource environments; while I will still stick with Mozilla Firefox due to its extraordinary customizability, as Chromium is also open-source and is getting many new add-ons every day, I could certainly see myself using Chromium in the future. Ice applications don't feel any different from Mozilla Prism applications, so I guess that's good.
Ice: Chromium
The only other changes in applications are the removal of Cheese Webcam Booth and the replacement of Exaile with XNoise. Other than that, the selection of installed applications (both desktop and cloud) are basically the same.
The last notable thing about Ice is that loading the Software Manager doesn't choke up the system as it does in One.

So which one would I choose? Chromium has convinced me of its capabilities with just 256 MB of RAM, and Ice just feels snappier than and doesn't choke up as often as One. I think I'm going to go with Ice. In any case, bravo to the Peppermint OS developers, and keep up the excellent work!

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